SAMA BANYA (PUAWUI): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 December 2019:
In Williamson’s “History of the British Empire” which was one of the Geography text books for the Cambridge School Certificate Examination of my time (1940 – 48). it is stated that the first set of European settlers in North America were the religious sects and others who were running away from persecution in England.
They set off from Plymouth in South Western England in 1620 and settled along the east coast of North America in the area known today as New England. Settling down in a new and unexplored environment was not easy.
After a time, many of them began to grumble; and like the Israelites in the wilderness they wondered whether life was not better in England where in-spite of the persecution, they were comfortable. (Photo: author – Dr Sama Banya).
Their grumbling and rattling became so persistent that the Elders called a general meeting and exhorted them thus:
“Yes we left England because of persistent persecution for our belief as well as for other reasons. But this is a new settlement, and in spite of the initial discomfort, yet the land is fertile and we are growing as much food as we require. The rivers are full of fish, and meat is available from hunting.
“In addition to all this, we have the main reason for which we left England, which is that we wanted freedom to worship according to our faith and which we now enjoy. Therefore instead of grumbling all the time, why won’t we thank God for the privileges we have – especially the privilege of free worship for which we ran away from persecution.”
The assembly agreed that it was a good suggestion and followed it up with the first General Assembly of Thanksgiving and praise to God for His Mercies. This has now become an annual event observed sometime in the month of November every year, throughout the United States. It is referred to as Thanksgiving Day and it is also a public holiday.
The story of the SLPP includes marginalization, persecution, ethnic and regional cleansing, and sometimes outright bullying by the APC.
This situation was aggravated from the first day in 2007 when the then Chief Electoral Commissioner Christiana Thorpe handed victory to Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma – the APC Presidential candidate. The APC thugs and other hoodlums descended on the headquarters of the SLPP, attacked its members who were in the building and wrought havoc and destruction.
The APC leadership, including the President and his vice President did nothing about it; neither did they or any party leader offer any apology to the SLPP leadership.
There are other stories of brutality and destruction over the eleven years of APC rule. The security forces were so determined to please their new masters that more often than not, they were the perpetrators of those heinous crimes against the SLPP members and their supporters.
There was another instance where we the leadership of the SLPP was invited to State House because of our complaint to the President for assault on our building and total destruction of our radio transmitter. At the end of an inconclusive meeting, we were pelted with human urine as we left the building.
The last straw was at the funeral of the late Justice Tolla Thompson of Blessed Memory, who was the Chairman of the PPRC. The APC’s Pat Sowe ordered the SSD to attack members of our party who had been invited to participate in the funeral; Pat Sowe’s excuse was that when and wherever he saw GREEN he became nauseated.
We suffered all this and much more, including the irresponsible and unjustified sacking of many of our public sector employees – many of them holding very responsible positions. They were replaced in all cases by APC nominees.
Throughout those eleven years, whenever we assembled – whether at our headquarters or in the provinces, we always sang the hymn “Have Faith in God”. That abiding faith coupled with the misrule of the APC and the will of Almighty God, brought us into governance in 2018 with Julius Maada Bio as President.
Since the formation of his cabinet including the appointment of heads of various state institutions, one hears nothing from most members of our SLPP other than to moan that despite their sacrifices and sufferings they have been left out of governance.
They say that they have not received their just reward for their hard labour – a case of “Monkey woke baboo eat!”
The issue is, even if Maada Bio had not appointed all these new people from the Diasporas, neither he nor anybody else could fully employ all our deserving members.
Yet because we are in governance we all can go around with our chin up and a smile on our faces. We are protected from the heat of the APC sun by the shadow of the green palm tree. Is this not something to be proud or thankful of? Why do we go around grumbling, amidst veiled threats of “2023 etc, etc?”
We have another three years to go and hopefully by the Grace of God – beyond 2023.
The name Sierra Leone for the first time in many years is now in the international news for the right reasons.
The President’s strides and intentions have the prospect of prosperity for all. Even the Council of Elders has now been recognized as an essential organ of the party and given a purpose beyond existing in name only.
If we suffered and waited patiently for eleven years why cannot we wait for a few more years to allow the government to have its feet firmly on the ground and see what benefits accrue to all Sierra Leoneans under the new direction.
In 2012, several APC aspirants and sitting Members of Parliament did not receive the party symbol for the Parliamentary elections. But instead of folding hands and baby crying at being left out, they formed an association for the promotion of their party’s welfare.
While that was going on, some SLPP members who were not awarded party symbols took the party to court; and through Justice Showers the successful MPs were replaced by their APC opponents whom they had defeated at the polls. Is this how we want our SLPP party to progress?
What benefit do we get from attempts at self-destruction? It is time to stop the rot. All of us must now put our shoulders to the wheel and consolidate our hold on power until 2023, and on to 2028 and beyond.